Cheap free float handguards vs. expensive

Discussion in 'Black Rifle Forum' started by Bren, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. Bren

    Bren NRA Life Member

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    I was thinking I need some free float handguards for some of my rifles, most of which don't currently have them. The prices are all over the place - it looks like they run from $20 to $300+

    Maybe even more ridiculous, I was interested in a Knight's Armament carbine handguard, which isn't even a free float system, and people seem to be selling those for about $300 each, used.

    WTF?

    To save time, I am mainly interested in straight Picatinny rail systems - not so much the M-lock and keymod and such.

    Somebody tell me, especially for the free float ones, what features make the expensive ones worth so much more?
     
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  2. mac66

    mac66 Huge Member Millennium Member

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    I have one name brand free float handguard which I paid +-$200 for. I have several free float hand guards I paid $40-60 for. The only difference was the name that was on it.
     

  3. Khufu

    Khufu Pharaoh

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    Some of it is where they are machined.

    Chinese machining is cheaper than American machining.
     
  4. Bren

    Bren NRA Life Member

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    But the question is, does it make a practical difference?
     
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  5. Walk Soft

    Walk Soft

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    Are straight Picatinny rails still a thing? I put ALG EMR (V1) M-Lok rails on everything. I find them a good compromise and they fit my minimalist style. Also they fit my hand a lot better than the big circumference cheese graters of ole.
    They’re easy to install too.
    02065B85-FCAC-4EDD-8C05-B7FE57217969.jpeg
     
  6. Khufu

    Khufu Pharaoh

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    What tier are you?

    People dont want to hear this, but some chinese machined parts can be better than US.

    Most of extrusions or raw materials probably come from China.

    Buying certified US aluminum/steel/titanium/metal is hard and expensive. Other than government contract or other special reasons to spec US sourced material, they are all probably made from Chinese (or asian) metal.

    After that, the machining comes down to tolerances. Most accessories have generous tolerances.
     
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  7. MajorD

    MajorD

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    Perhaps the first question is do you even need free float? For precision rifles used at extended range they have a place but for your typical short range carbine used with ball ammo inside 300 yards, little practical advantage over a non free float. You can often find used function knights rail systems for under 100 bucks
     
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  8. Jack Black

    Jack Black

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    I think there are good rails nowadays in the $150 range. Midwest Industries for example. You used to have to spend $300. I haven’t tried anything cheaper but it seems like they’re just not finished as nice.
     
  9. DocPoison

    DocPoison

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    I had a UTG rail cheap but heavy and a poor finish. I have a couple of Troy rails and they are of good quality but expensive. My last AR build I used Aero Precision, mid-range price but very good quality and a good finish.
     
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  10. DaleGribble

    DaleGribble Sandwich!

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    This. I've got a set of those KAC handguards on an M4 clone that I bought from a guy here way back in the day before slick sided handguards were even a thing. I think I paid less than $100 for them. $300 is insane.
     
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  11. DaleGribble

    DaleGribble Sandwich!

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    It can. Some **** rails can work loose, seen it happen plenty of times.

    Honestly though, if you can get a cheap rail mounted properly, and it's tight, not really. A lot of it just comes down to what you want and like. If you've got nods and you've got a PEQ mounted, I'm not putting that type of high dollar gear on a cheap rail from the Chicoms. I'd stick with Geissele for that.

    If you aren't that high speed and you're like the rest of us, blasting cardboard on the weekends, pick the one you like the look of the most and roll with it.
     
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  12. Khufu

    Khufu Pharaoh

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    Locktite

    But dont use red....
     
  13. Khufu

    Khufu Pharaoh

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    I would make a bet that most people if handed a Chicom handguard and a US one, not knowing what was made where, would be taking a wild guess which was which if they handled both of them.
     
  14. BOOSTED12A

    BOOSTED12A

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    I have an eBay special, works for me. I did have to swap out the screws that hold the guard on tho. They rusted quick and stripped out so I put some ss ones on. It's worked great so far
     
  15. Ghost doctor

    Ghost doctor N.R.A life member. G.O.A member

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    I have
    I have a MLOK rail that I bought a couple of years ago for 35 bucks,fit, finish and looks are great. I don't care for most of the fugly cheese graters that most are offering these days, They look too much like something that a hampster in a cage plays on, whether they are 35 dollars or 300.
     
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  16. Brass3

    Brass3

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    Myself, I'm in the same boat as mac66 and Ghost doctor. I'm not going to pay for a name. My biggest concern is M-Lok or Key Mod, I have both.
    As Dale stated about working loose, a dab of lock tight (blue) I think we all do that with screws.
     
  17. Taz

    Taz

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    A quality design, executed per the design intent will work whether it’s made in China or the USA or Timbuktu. The question about source of supply isn’t about location but support. I prefer and try to support local where feasible. Thankfully, I’m in a position where the 1 or 2 rail system I buy I can afford to support some local guys. If you need a rail and can’t afford the $$ then do what you have to do. I used ALG and BCM. Both are easy to install with the BCM not requiring any timing, shimming just a torque wrench... The ALG has a shim set and wrench with indicators. Shim per the indicators and use a pipe attached to the supplied wrench and turn the knob till the indicators line up. Both are simple. Both have a right fit between the nut and rail. Both have a large nut that takes the load of the rail. Both work awesome.

    Look at the design of the system as it’s the driving factor.

    The question still begs, do you need a rail or want one. The USMC issued weapons without free float rails for generations and still had requirements that riflemen be able to hit at up to 500 yds.
     
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  18. AK_Stick

    AK_Stick AAAMAD

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    I run DD Omega rails on most of my rifles, because I'm lazy and I don't like taking off FSB's.

    Might convert from picatiny one of these days, but till the army does, I'm pretty stuck
     
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  19. GlockFan7

    GlockFan7

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    I suppose competition might expose some of the lesser products. I bought a couple of Aim Sports that I've been happy with. I was focused on Midwest Industries and I decided to give the cheaper models a try. I bought one and maybe a year later, I bought a second. I like how they look and how well they fit. No issues with them coming loose. They're fine for my minimal needs.
     
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  20. Americanpatriot

    Americanpatriot

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    I have a BCM quad rail, cost me about 170.00 and is a very sturdy fairly light weight quad rail. I'm very pleased with the BCM product.
    I didn't care for the M-lok system and I have no experience with cheaper rails.